This article by Lan Nguyen Chaplin, a professor of marketing at a prestigious business school, reflects my own experience. Those jobs I’ve thought were ‘big’ and ‘important’ have been the ones that have drained me of energy, made me sad, and generally changed me for the worse.
Instead, as Chaplin says, the important thing is to align your work your values and personal strengths. This (eventually) allows you to transform what you do into a sustainable, balanced, and purposeful career. Sometimes, though, you have to know what you’re willing to tolerate and what you’re not, which can involve going precipitously close to the fire.
Outside of my fancy new title, I had begun to feel empty. In just a few months, my identity had quite literally become “my job” and I lost sight of the many things that fulfilled me outside of it. I didn’t have time or energy for family and friends. Activities that brought me joy, like running and lacrosse, went out the window. I traveled for work instead of pleasure. I had no time to give back to my community.
Instead, I jotted down research ideas on bar napkins, replied to emails when everyone else was offline, and had a growing portfolio of projects in development. I didn’t know how to disconnect without feeling unproductive. For hours, I sat with my laptop in isolation, working on research that might never be published.
The moment you have found your dream job is the moment you have stopped growing, evolving, and finding new ways to experience joy in your role. Remember, you were hired because you offer something the organization is missing. They need change. They need you to bring your whole self to work, and that means doing things differently with the added flare that is you. A job that inspires you and gives you the space you need to be your full self is the dreamiest job out there.